Letter: Havana, monument to a people under siege

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Sir: I read Jonathan Glancey's article about Havana ('Walls came tumbling down', 20 October) with great interest. I would like to make it clear, however, that financial and other donations from Unesco destined for the restoration of the historic centre of Havana, which has been nominated a World Heritage site, have not been suspended or cancelled.

The restoration project and attention given to the monuments of Havana are seen as essential priorities by the Cuban nation, despite the other critical problems the country faces due to the economic blockade imposed and continually tightened by the government of the United States of America. Juliet Barclay's recent book, Havana, Portrait of a City, contains splendid photographs by Martin Charles that show what has been achieved in terms of restoration.

It is essential to recognise the spirit of the Cuban people, who, in defence of their own destiny, are enduring hardship with much the same spirit as the British did during the dark days of the Second World War, without in any way relinquishing the buildings and monuments that form the basis of its history.

As the curator of the city of Havana and as the guardian of its history and collective memory, I would like to make an ardent plea to your readers to get to know Havana, which is indissolubly linked to the cultural interests of Britain, and to contribute, if possible, to the salvation of the historic centre of our city.

Yours faithfully,

EUSEBIO LEAL SPENGLER

Historian, City of Havana

Palacio de los Capitanes Generales

Havana, Cuba

9 November

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